Behind the scenes

Pearl Harbor story, the movie 9 to 5, and Bode Miller. Also, 7 other things worth your time.

Welcome to our new subscribers. It’s funny, some days I can deduce why there are a lot of new signups—usually because an article I wrote for or Business Insider or somewhere else did well, or because a post I put up on LinkedIn or Twitter got a lot of play.

Other days, like yesterday, there’s no obvious source—until I dig in and realize that it’s because readers made an extra effort to spread the word. So, thanks for doing that. I really appreciate it. And if you’ve just stumbled by, here’s a handy red sign-up button.

A reader’s message, and two points. First the message:

Thank you so much for this column about Pearl Harbor and Roosevelt's speech.

My dad (now deceased) was a 22-year-old Army munitions specialist stationed in Hawaii. At the time of the attack, they were trying to hide and move ammunition to the troops who were trying to defend the island.

He remembered that a Japanese fighter plane circled the area where they were frantically working. They thought they were goners. The plane circled three times and then flew off, sparing my dad and probably about 50 other soldiers.

He never talked about this experience. The first time I knew my dad had even been at Pearl Harbor was in 1991, when my parents mentioned they had submitted an application to receive the Pearl Harbor Survivors Commemorative Medal/Coin that Congress had authorized for the 50th anniversary of the attack.

When I asked him why he was applying for that, he shared with me the story of that day, the first time he had ever talked about it with me.

That coin now occupies a place of honor in my home as a remembrance of not only my dad's participation, but also the men and women who sacrificed for the freedoms we now enjoy.

My dad went on to serve as part of the liberation army of the Philippines, and also went to Guadalcanal. Bill, thank you for your column about this, a day that many do not know about, as it slips further into history.

That’s from David Ray, assistant vice president at the Association of Christian Schools International in Colorado Springs, who happened to email me after yesterday’s newsletter. (I’m sharing with his permission.)

It got me thinking—for about the 10th time this week—that I should try to do a better job of being more interactive, and frankly leveraging all of your experiences.

Much of this comes from the results of the reader survey I did earlier. (There’s still time to add your voice, if you’d like.)

Some days, the topics for this newsletter come easily; sometimes I struggle. Sometimes I have things on the calendar weeks or months ahead of time.

December 7 was like that: Pearl Harbor Day, pretty obvious. But let’s just say David Ray is not the first reader to make me think: Hmmm, I kind of wish I’d heard this before I wrote the newsletter around that milestone.

(I like the story of FDR’s speech, but honestly, the anniversary of his address to Congress is today, not December 7.)

Anyway, I have a few things penciled in on my editorial calendar, and maybe I should think about sharing them with y’all. (I’m from Rhode Island, I have no idea where I picked up “y’all.”) So here are two of them.

  • First, the movie 9 to 5 premiered 40 years ago this month, so I’ve been thinking of writing about it. Maybe it would be interesting to hear from readers with perspectives on working in an office in 1980 vs. today? Or maybe someone has a connection to the movie itself. I wouldn’t be totally shocked to find out that say, someone happens to know Dolly Parton and wants to share this with her.

  • Second, I’m interviewing Bode Miller next week, the Olympic gold medal winning skier and probably the most successful male American alpine ski racer of all time. Since I’m doing a Zoom call with him anyway, I thought, why not see if some Understandably readers want to sit in on it — maybe ask a question or two.

Anyway, if you have thoughts or ideas about 9 to 5, just reply to this with “9 to 5” in the subject.

As for Bode Miller, I’m working on the timing, but I think it will be early next week, sometime in the afternoon East Coast time. I’ll send a signup link when I have those details, but if anyone wants to express interest, just so I have a sense how this will go, I’d appreciate it.

Frankly, I’m excited about this idea as a possible ongoing feature. I do get a chance to interview some pretty interesting people. Why not share those experiences, and give a bit of a glimpse into how some of this works behind the scenes?

7 other things worth your time

  • A new poll says 55% of New York City firefighters don’t want to take a Covid-19 vaccine, according to their union. (CBS New York)

  • The Trump administration plans a ceremony to rename two Florida air force bases as “space force bases:” Patrick and Cape Canaveral will become Patrick Space Force Base and Cape Canaveral Space Force Base. (Defense One)

  • Some difficult details have emerged regarding the final days and months of the life of former Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, who died recently. I wrote about this for — basically, how everyone you meet in life is fighting a battle you know nothing about. (

  • In the midst of an historically bad job market, the admissions cycle for MBA programs is looks like it will be the most competitive ever. Meanwhile, medical school applications are up 18 percent, in what school officials call the “Fauci effect.” (WSJ, $, NPR)

  • Least safe city in America? Fort Lauderdale, Florida, according to a new study. (CBS Miami)

  • Like most of us, Pope Francis hasn’t traveled anywhere in a long time. Yesterday the Vatican announced his first apostolic visit since the pandemic began, and it’s notable for the danger of the trip: Iraq, in March 2021. (Vatican News)

  • OK. You’re American, and you want to travel to Europe. Only one country will have you due to the pandemic, and that country is: Croatia. (WashPost)

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